A Celebration of Learning and Curiosity. Written by David Perell

Monday Musings (1/21/19)

Rules for Reading

Hey everybody,

Two exciting pieces of content for you this week: a podcast with one of my favorite writers and an article about how I choose what to read.

The article is based on my 12 rules for reading:

  1. Have a bias against mainstream books, articles, and information sources. Engage with topics, ideas, and events that nobody is talking about.

  2. Reading is a process, a mindset, and a way of life. Strive to read a lot.

  3. Always ask: Am I actually progressing or is this source giving me the illusion of progress?

  4. Pretend you have the choice between two articles. Article #1 is on a website that’s ugly, obscure, and hard to navigate. Article #2 is on a website that’s pretty, mainstream, and easy to navigate. Read article #1 every time. If you want the backstory, read Surgeons Should Not Look Like Surgeons.

  5. The best biography is the one the subject of the biography doesn’t approve of. 

  6. Read books that intimidate you. Have a bias for books that would push most people away. These books are either too long, too difficult, or too counter-intuitive, but they will likely contain information that will give you an edge. 

  7. Time is like a filter for quality. Read books that’ve stood the test of time. Have a bias towards old, weird books. 

  8. Past a certain point, it is more productive to read around your field than within your field. 

  9. Read in clusters and learn via entry points. I’ve been learning about the history of New York. Instead of reading a book directly about “The History of New York,” I’ve explored the the Art Deco movement, powerful New York City political figures, the New York Yankees, and the history of New York City architecture. 

  10. Read books that the ideal version of yourself (in 20 years) would have been proud to have read.

  11. Seek diversity in your reading life. New ideas come from the weird juxtaposition of ideas. Right now, I’m reading a book about Austrian Economics, the history of art from ancient times to the modern era, a collection of essays on the role of media throughout history, urban politics in New York City, and another book on how music works.

  12. Try not to read what everybody else is reading. I try not to look for the best books. Instead, I look for the most under-valued books. Crucially, this heuristic guides me towards ideas that nobody is talking about. If everybody is talking about the book you’re reading, consider another book.

— —

Quick note: I will be in Chicago in early February (February 6 - 11) for a series of podcast interviews. Right now, my only confirmed guest is Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp. Guest recommendations and personal introductions are always appreciated. 

While I’m in Chicago, I’ll be hosting a Monday Musings meet up. 

  • Date: February 6th, 6:30pm

  • Location: On Tour Brewing Company

  • Address: 1725 W Hubbard St. Chicago, IL 60622

If you plan to attend, please let me know by responding to this email.


Fresh Ideas

North Star Podcast: Tal Shachar

This was a special episode. I started reading Tal’s work in college. I remember sitting on a beanbag in the student center, reading his exquisite writing, and saying to myself “this is what I want to do after I graduate.” 

Note: If you’re not familiar with Tal, here’s a link to his writing. Tal’s articles are some of the best articles ever written on the future of media.

Today, Tal works for Immortals, a global eSports organization in Los Angeles, where he is the Chief Digital Officer and leads consumer-facing operations. Before that, Tal led strategy and growth for BuzzFeed studios, focusing on growing audience and monetizing Buzzfeed’s intellectual property across channels.

We devoted the entire episode to the future of media. We talked about: 

  1. Netflix vs. Amazon vs. HBO

  2. Food culture on the internet

  3. Feeds vs. Tiles

  4. Why Hollywood is an API for Silicon Valley

  5. Feedback loops between digital and physical reality

You can listen to the episode here.


New Article: How I Choose What To Read

Information is like food. We are what we consume. 

Attention is scarce, and there’s a direct correlation between how well we allocate and how well we perform in life. The quality of our attention directly impacts health, happiness and productivity. 

In this post, I share five heuristics for choosing what to read: 

  1. Trust Recommendations — But Not Too Much

  2. Tame the Thrillers

  3. Blend a Bizarre Bowl

  4. Trust the Lindy Effect

  5. Favor Biographies over Self-Help

You can read the full article here.


Coolest Things I Learned This Week

Remembering John Bogle

Morgan Housel said it best: "John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard built a nonprofit business with $5 trillion under management. What would have been profit effectively went to retirees. He's the biggest undercover philanthropist of all time.”

If you’d like to consume some of Bogle’s wisdom, I recommend his 2007 Commencement Speech. 

Rest in peace. 


Be the Secret Supplier 

In high profile industries with low barriers to entry, be the secret supplier. 

Examples: 

  1. E-Commerce: Shopify 

  2. Advertising: Facebook

  3. Websites: Amazon Web Services  

It’s a gold rush. The winners aren’t mining for gold. They’re selling shovels instead.

John D. Rockefeller did it best. My friend Arjun sent me this screenshot from TitanRon Chernow’s biography of Rockefeller. 


Fortnite is Netflix's Most Threatening Competitor

From Netflix’s recent earnings report:  

“In the U.S., we earn around 10 percent of television screen time and less than that of mobile screen time. We earn consumer screen time, both mobile and television, away from a very broad set of competitors. We compete with (and lose to) Fornite more than HBO.”


High-End Malls Are Thriving

Bargain chains are doing well too. It’s middle-class stores that are struggling mightily. 


How to Increase Pleasure without Increasing Consumption

“If you can change people's focus, attention, and their status currencies so they derive more pleasure from what already exists, rather than from what has to be created to sate their demands, you can essentially increase wealth without increasing consumption.” — Rory Sutherland

As you may know, I’m a big fan of Sutherland’s. He’s coming on the North Star Podcast next time he’s in New York. I’ve written about him here and here


Love This from Tyler Cowen


Ira Glass on Taste

I love this quote. Keep creating. 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.

Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile.

You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”


Photo of the Week

On Wednesday, Sara Dietschy interviewed me and Nik Sharma, the Head of Direct-To-Consumer Commerce at VaynerMedia. It was my first time turning the table around, and instead of doing the interviewing, it was fun to be interviewed.

Sara is one of the coolest people I know. She dropped out of college to make YouTube videos, and now, she has more than 400,000 YouTube subscribers. I hosted her on the North Star Podcast last year.

Nik is one of my best friends. We’ve written a couple articles together (our most recent article is The Customer Acquisition Pricing Parade). We share our ideas in public whenever possible. We record all our conversations. Then, we take the best stuff and turn it into articles, and soon, a podcast that we will co-host.

The podcast with Sara will go live in February, and when it does, I’ll absolutely share it with you.

Until next week,

David Perell

Monday Musings (1/14/19)

A Big Ol' Welcome!

Hello everybody, 

What a crazy week…. My most recent article, Coolest Things I Learned in 2018 went viral. I published it last Monday, and in just a week, it’s been read by almost 100,000 people.

Among those readers, more than 2,000 signed up for Monday Musings. For all of you who are new to Monday Musings… welcome!

To all my new readers: I’ve spent years exploring the internet and now, I have a gift for you. Here’s a link to my favorite things on the internet. So much good stuff there…

— — —

I was quoted in Ad Week, where I spoke about Naked Brands, internet marketing, and brand building in the internet age. 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: People are becoming brands, and brands are becoming more like people.


Fresh Ideas 

North Star Podcast: Keith Rabois

Keith Rabois is the Managing Director at Khosla Ventures. At Khosla, Keith focuses on the consumer internet, education, enterprise, financial services, and digital health. 

Keith has had a front-seat to Silicon Valley history. He’s had five bosses in his career: Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, Reid Hoffman, Jack Dorsey, and Vinod Khosla — what an impressive squad. 

We talked about: 

  1. The Power of Accumulating Advantages

  2. Lessons from Peter Thiel

  3. Finding Undiscovered Talent

  4. The Future of Education

  5. How to Write a Great Speech

Awesome, awesome conversation. Enjoy!

Listen to the Podcast Here.


Coolest Things I Learned This Week

How to Learn Something Visual

On Saturday, I went to the MET with a friend. It’s my favorite museum in New York. While we were exploring the museum, my friend something interesting:

"If you really want to learn something visual, buy a puzzle of it and you’ll remember it way better."

He bought a puzzle of the Sistine Chapel and now knows Michaelangelo’s magnum opus by memory.

The act of piecing together the puzzle made him appreciate how the elements fit together. He saw how shadows, light, and form came together to construct Michaelangelo's masterpiece.


New York Isn’t As Dense As It Used to Be

Most of the decline comes from the Lower East Side


Japanese Employment Trends

In recent years Japan has defied destiny.

Since 2012, its working-age population has shrunk by 4.7 million, yet the number of people working has surged by 4.4. million, the critical ingredient in what is now Japan’s second-longest economic expansion since World War II.

The proportion of the population in the labor force has risen sharply since 2012, by more than in any other major advanced economy.


Population in America

Even though urban areas make up just 3.6 percent of the total size of the 48 contiguous states, four in five Americans live, work and play there.


Apple is United’s Biggest Customer

Apple is United’s biggest corporate customer globally. Apple spends $35 million per year on flights from Shanghai and San Francisco. 

Observations from David Ulevitch:

1) Amazing that this was printed and published. Surely a mistake. 

2) Apple purchases 50 business class seats a day across United Airlines flights.

3) These large accounts certainly have route influence at SFO.


The Upside of Bureaucracy

From Samo Burja, a recent guest on the North Star Podcast:

The purpose of a bureaucracy is to save the time of a competent person. Put another way: to save time, some competent people will create a system that is meant to do exactly what they want — nothing more and nothing less.

In particular, it’s necessary to create a bureaucracy when you are both (a) trying to do something that you do not have the capacity to do on your own, and (b) unable to find a competent, aligned person to handle the project for you.

Bureaucracies ameliorate the problem of talent and alignment scarcity.


The Downside of Bureaucracy

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.


A Short History of Wall Street

1640: Dutch of New Amsterdam built 12 foot wall to keep bad people out.

1664: British ignored wall, taking New Amsterdam by sea. 

Today: It's called New York, wall down, road called "Wall Street." 


Photo of the Week

Interviewing famous entrepreneurs is always challenging. The stakes are high so the nerves kick in.

People like Keith have been interviewed hundreds of times. With that in mind, I shifted the conversation towards topics that I hadn’t heard Keith discuss elsewhere, such as lessons from the NFL, political speechwriting, and how to raise the level of ambition in society.

Until next week,

David Perell

Monday Musings (1/7/19)

Fun, Friendship and Philosophy

Hello everybody,

Greetings from Toronto! It’s my first time here. I landed in Canada this morning, and after stepping off the Boeing 737, I went to border security, handed over my passport, and hit it off with the Canadian customs official. His name was Harding.

Maybe I was suspicious. Maybe I was friendly. Maybe I was suspiciously friendly. Regardless, we started talking about the North Star Podcast, and by the time he stamped my passport, he was a Monday Musings subscriber. Hi Harding!

Maybe I’m just in a good mood. I spent the weekend with six friends on a retreat in upstate New York. The weekend retreat was really an Annual Review. A time to reflect on 2018 and prepare for 2019. I hosted the retreat with Chris Sparks (a professional poker player and productivity coach) who I’ve been working with for a couple months now. 

I can’t recommend an Annual Review retreat enough. If you decide to host one, here’s what I suggest:

1. Preparation

Each participant was tasked with a couple hours of writing homework. Answering a common list of questions ensured that everybody was prepared and kept everybody on the same page. The questions were as follows: 

  1. In 2018, what were your biggest wins?  What did you learn from each?

  2. In 2018, where was your time, attention, and energy was best spent in 2018?  How could you double down in these areas?

  3. In 2018, where could your time, attention, and energy have been spent better?  What steps could you take to make this a reality?

  4. What does everyone around you know about you, that you don’t know about you?

  5. Who do you need to become for chapter 2019 of your life story to turn out the way you want it to?

  6. If you had to accomplish all of your 10-year goals in the next 12 months, what would you do?

2. The Hot-Seat

The Hot-Seat was the most important part of the Annual Review Retreat. It’s the most valuable activity, precisely because it’s the most vulnerable moment of the weekend. When you’re on the hot seat, all the attention is on you. 30 minutes. There’s no choice. You have to open up. 

The time is split into three ten-minute increments.  Here’s how it works:

  1. First, you stand up in front of the group and share your biggest problem or challenge with the audience.

  2. The next ten minutes is devoted to questions. To gain context and understand the problem, the audience fires with clarifying question after clarifying question. 

  3. The last ten minutes is advice-oriented. The person on the hot seat cannot reply. They must listen to the audience’s advice and take notes. 

The best Hot-Seat sessions were the most personal. The deeper you go, the wider the benefits. 

Human problems are multi-layered. We protect ourselves with cozy narratives and run away from anything that smells like trauma. Problems are nested within each other. Breakthrough answers are hidden inside the deep dark depths of consciousness. The Hot-Seat is a guaranteed way to break through those layers and have an epiphany. 

3. What You Need to Know

  1. Keep substances to a minimum. You’re there for a purpose. Honor your commitment. 

  2. Rent a house with a hot tub if you can. Hot tubs guarantee good conversation. The highlight of the weekend was a long conversation with two friends, sitting under a starry, polka-dotted sky. 

  3. As a retreat organizer, you aren’t just creating an experience. You’re creating a memory. Use the peak-end rule to your advantage — as humans, we tend to remember two things: (1) the most intense part of the experience and (2) the end of the experience. The mood you leave with matters. Knowing this, we closed the weekend with an Escape-The-Room-Challenge and 90 minutes of laser tag. 

Long, uninterrupted time with quality people adds more value to my life than almost any other activity. Society is structured around short bursts of friendship. Coffees. Lunches. Dinners. 

Instead of spending two or three hours with somebody, I prefer to spend two or three days with them. More, if possible. Time has the effect of pushing conversation deeper. After 24 hours, the small talk disappears, and after 48 hours, philosophizing is inevitable. The quality of discussion and the persistence of shared memories increases exponentially with time.

In just 48 hours, we sowed the seeds of deep friendships, which will continue to sprout. In a world where extended time with friends is scarce, we compressed six months of friendship development into two days. 

On average, most people don’t have enough structure in their friend groups. They just wing it. As a result, the roots of friendship don’t soak into the soil, which prevents vertical growth later on. 

When you’re a kid, most of your friendships are competitive. People one-up each other with stories. They compete over money, fame and status.

I want the opposite. I want cooperative friendships with zero competition. If there is competition, it must be healthy and productive. My friends and I are a team. When they succeed, I succeed; when I succeed, they succeed. I won’t have it any other way. No exceptions.

As the world changes faster and faster, the utility of friendship should increase. The future is blurry. Since the world is hard to predict, you need friends to help you. The right friends will help you navigate the future and point your career in a productive direction. 

Friends who help each other have a huge advantage. You and your friends are like cartographers — mapping out the future. Weekend retreats are a great place to begin. 


Fresh Ideas

New Article: Coolest Things I Learned in 2018

Ok friends.

I wrote a listicle. Yes, a listicle. It’s basically a BuzzFeed post — remixed with zesty Monday Musings flavors.

It’s super fun and that’s the point. I hope you enjoy it.

You can read the post here.


North Star Podcast: Gillian Morris

Gillian is the founder and CEO of Hitlist, an app that alerts you when there are cheap flights for your dream trips. Fast Company named Hitlist one of the Best Apps of 2017 and the app has been featured as a 'Best New App' by the app store in 83 countries.

Conversation Topics:

  • Gillian’s experience as a journalist in Turkey

  • What it’s like to spend time in war zones in Syria and Afganistan

  • “Swimming Across Guantanamo”

  • Why Tinder is the world’s best travel app

  • Alternative Parenting Strategies

You can listen to the podcast here.


Coolest Things I Learned This Week

People are Moving to Where It’s Hotter

That is from Bloomberg. The rest is from The Rent is Too Damn High:

"The “booming” cities of the Southeast and the western United States aren’t necessarily booming in the sense of getting rich. The ten metropolitan areas with the fastest population growth between the 2000 and 2010 censuses were, in order, Palm Coast, Florida; St. George, Utah; Las Vegas, Nevada; Raleigh, North Carolina; Cape Coral, Florida; Provo, Utah; Greeley, Colorado; Austin, Texas; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Bend, Oregon. 

That geographical distribution supports the idea of a boom in the Southeast and West. But it’s striking that in 2009 all ten of these metro areas had per capita personal incomes below the national average of $40,757. Indeed, only Cape Coral was even close.”


Find Your Tribe

Love this:

“One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, back when I was 23 and newly out of school, is this: look around and figure out who you want to be on your team. Figure out the people around you that you want to work with for the rest of your life. Figure out the people who are smart & awesome, who share your values, who get things done — and maybe most important, who you like to be with and who you want to help win. And treat them right, always. Look for ways to help, to work together, to learn. Because in 20 years you’ll all be in amazing places doing amazing things.”


Where is GDP Concentrated?


The World is Becoming an Old Person’s Home

Especially true once you remove the United States. 


A Term You Gotta Know: Gell-Mann Amnesia


What Kobe Bryant Used to Read.


Photo of the Week

Here is the annual review squad. We snapped this photo during brunch in Cold Springs, New York. 

7 guys. All committed to helping each other grow, improve, and tackle the new year with passion and enthusiasm. That’s what friendship is all about.

Have a great week,

David Perell

Monday Musings (12/31/18)

Leaping into 2019

Hello, hello!!

Happy, happy, happy New Year. I look forward to learning and exploring the wonderful world of ideas with you in 2019. 

Quick note: I’ll be in Toronto next week (January 6 - January 9). If you’d like to meet up in Toronto, let me know by responding to this email.

Also… If you have recommendations for the North Star Podcast or if you can make an introduction to a Toronto-based guest, let me know. The best guests have two things in common: (1) they learn passionately, and (2) speak with clarity and enthusiasm. 


Fresh Ideas: 2018 Edition

Article: How to Maximize Serendipity

This was the most popular article on website in 2018. 

Some background: I spend tons of time trying to engineer serendipity — that’s a paradox, I know. But I believe that serendipity is a skill, which means it can be learned. 

Maximizing your surface area of serendipity will increase your chance of success in any domain, and these are my favorite strategies. 

You can read the article here.


North Star Podcast: Daniel Gross

This was the most popular podcast of 2018.

Daniel Gross is a partner at Y Combinator, the world’s top startup accelerator. Themes of the episode:

  1. The power of seeing life like a video game

  2. Lessons from John D. Rockefeller on business and decision making

  3. Why is Israel such an innovative country?

You can listen to the podcast here.


Coolest Things I Learned This Week

How Big is Africa? 

  1. Africa’s land mass is greater than the USA, Europe, and China combined.

  2. Within this huge space there are 54 unique markets, few of which provide scale or adequate distribution infrastructure.

  3. There are over 2,000 languages spoken and very diverse cultural dynamics from one market to the next.


YouTube is the Leviathan in Plain Sight

Some reasons why: 

  1. YouTube is raising the next generation. Kids below the age of three are already glued to YouTube on iPad Pros, instead of television. 

  2. YouTube is like an electronic babysitter, and unlike TV, you can program is with educational content via playlists.

  3. “My son is learning through the internet, not through books. He’s an expert on European history, even though he has never taken a course on European history. The spines of the history books I've given him remain uncracked.” — Jerry Neuman

And this quote from Streampunks YouTube and the Rebels Remaking Media:


"Human as Media”

I’ve been enjoying an obscure book called “Human as Media.” It’s written by a Russian Media ecologist, who studies the effects of media on what it means to be human. 

My favorite quotes below: 

  1. The tools that we believe make our lives easier simultaneously enslave us.

  2. The internet isn’t an individual pursuit, it’s something we do with each other. The internet is where people are.

  3. Content is now filtered not before publication, but at distribution.

  4. It is now not the reader who wants the message, but the message that wants the reader. In the future, content will be paid for not by those who wish to consume it, but by those who wish to distribute it.

  5. Thanks to the Internet, coincidences involving people and ideas that were previously thought to be impossible now occur all the time. (The internet is a serendipity machine)

A short, outstanding book.


Walt Disney’s Original Business Model


Radicals and Conservatives

From The Lessons of History

"The conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it - perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts. It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely; this is the trial heat which innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race.”


Jorge Luis Borges on Reading

“...if a book is tedious to you, don’t read it; that book was not written for you.... look for personal happiness, personal enjoyment. It is the only way to read.”


Incredible Aerial Photo of New York City


Photo of the Week

As I reflect on 2018, I’ve realized that four activities account for the vast majority of my happiness: 

  1. Learning through books, podcasts, and YouTube videos

  2. Sharing ideas with the world through writing and podcasts

  3. Traveling to new places

  4. Long conversations with A+ people

In 2019, I want to double down on these four activities. When possible, I’d like to combine them. This photo, where a friend and I are editing music on an iPad, is the perfect example. 

A couple weeks ago, I spent an evening with my friend Neil Collins, a talented artist, designer, and musician. We met at 9pm, and agreed that by the end of the evening, we’d produce a song together. I have no musical talents, so we followed Neil’s lead with the guitar and vocals. My contributions were marginal at best. But by 3am, the song was finished! 

Making music with friends is exactly what I want to spend more time doing next year. Memories were made, skills were built, and relationships were strengthened. Lesson learned. 

Happy New Year, 

David Perell

Monday Musings (12/24/18)

Warhol the Wizard

Hey there,

Happy Holidays to you!!!

I attended the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York last week, and wow… it was excellent. 

The show was a window into another era. From the 1950s to the 1970s, American life was defined by three things: (1) mass media, (2) mass production, and (3) mass consumption. 

Some reflections on the show: 

  1. Warhol’s famous Campbell’s Soup painting reminded me of Henry Ford’s famous line: "You can have any color as long as it's black.” In pursuit of mass production, we let go of personalization. Millions and millions of Americans paid the same prices for the same products and the same stores.

  1. Instead of making art for advertisements, Warhol made advertisements as art. Warhol studied our obsession with fame, questioned the rise of commercialism, and highlighted the uniformity of most areas of American life.

  1. Marshall McLuhan called advertising the greatest art form of the 20th century: "Advertising in the 20th century did what religious art had done in the 13th century: it used its imagery and authority to create images that helped focus mass desires and beliefs.”

    As one elderly woman said to me: “Back in my day, drinking a Coke was a real treat. It was always special. A surprise or a celebration. Today, it’s a cheap commodity, but back then, Coca-Cola was really special.”

  2. To Warhol, Coca-Cola represented the emerging American culture. He once said: "What’s great about this country, is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest.”

  3. Warhol made art from the news. The work, from 1962, mirrors the technologies of the time. The painting is made to look like a photograph. The early technology of wire services, where photographs were sent electronically, didn’t have the crispness of today’s photographs.

  1. As we looked at the newspaper headline above, the same elderly woman said: “People used to be shocked when something big happened. Totally shocked. That doesn’t happen anymore. We’re desensitized now. The shared experience has disappeared."

  2. In his less famous works, Warhol experimented with the newspaper page as a subject for his own art. 

  1. The mass media age created celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, who replaced the saints of earlier centuries. The packaging of Hollywood celebrities resembled the packaging of mass-produced objects and consumer goods for consumers. Like the factories of the age, Warhol created multiple versions of the same drawings and reproduced them at scale. 

  2. Warhol was the king of remixes. Technological development led Warhol towards abstraction. By cropping, unsealing, simplifying, blurring, distorting, obscuring, patterning, or mediating images, Warhol repurposed images, products, and news stories.

  3. This might be the most important painting of all. It’s based on a large-scale painting of Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of Communist China, on the cover of a collection of his aphorisms known as "The Little Red Book.” At the time, that painting was believed to be the most reproduced image in the world.

    1. By showing people “the now,” Warhol explored the essence of mass media and showed society the future. As Marshall McLuhan wrote: “Art is a distant Early warning system to tell the old culture what’s beginning to happen to it.”

    2. Warhol watched TV transform America. As George Trow wrote: “On TV, he trivial is raised up to power. The powerful is lowered toward the trivial.”

    3. Warhol predicted the convergence of art and business. He famously said: “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”

    4. Warhol was at the center of the New York City social scene. Instead of standing outside of the world like the artists before him, Warhol stood in the middle of it. He made friends with famous people and became famous himself. Observing the trends of the time, he anticipated the commodification of everything. 


Fresh Ideas

The Customer Acquisition Pricing Parade

I published this article a couple weeks ago, but it really took off this week. I co-wrote it with Nik Sharma — the best marketer I know.

This sentence inspired the article: "$0.40 of every VC dollar raised goes straight to user acquisition.”

We also wrote about: 

  1. Companies that used to focus on industries are now focusing on audiences.

  2. Competitive bids for the same inventory, addressing the same audience, drive up demand for the same real estate within a feed or a story. This is why Facebook ad prices are skyrocketing.

  3. We're shifting from a supply-driven world to a demand-driven world. Companies who cater to the needs of passionate customers will benefit from lowered customer acquisition costs and higher lifetime value, reduced churn and increased loyalty.

You can read the article here.


(Flashback): North Star Podcast with Sara Dietschy

Influencers are years ahead of the rest of us. They live at the frontier. Study influencers and you’ll see the future. 

Sara Dietchsy is a perfect example. She's a YouTuber, a musician, and an all-around incredible human being.

Themes from the podcast: 

  1. Creating Serendipity  

  2. Habits vs. Goals  

  3. Music, Movies + Basketball  

  4. The Future of YouTube

  5. Why people want to connect with people, not brands

Listen to the podcast here.


Coolest Things I Learned This Week

M.C Escher was a Mastermind

This is mesmerizing.


America is an Entertainment Superpower

"UFC is an amazing spectacle, and so many things had to be developed before something of that quality could be produced. 

Think of Vegas, first of all, a remote city in the desert that has managed to attract people, not just for this fight, but year-round for entertainment. Second, consider all the accouterments around the fight: the seamless transitions; the interludes from Joe Rogan and Bruce Buffer, who are both talented announcers; the special effects of lighting, fog, and music, all of which combine to marvelous effect. Third, think about what it takes to market this type of event. And finally the fighters themselves, who know what they have to do to provide a good show. It was then I felt that I grasped how outstanding the US is at producing entertainment. 

This is a valuable cultural competence. I don’t think there are any other countries that can develop an audience and put on so many types of high-quality shows.”

That is from Dan Wang. I recommend the entire post.


Seoul, South Korea has more Starbucks than Any Other City


The Bay Area has a bigger economy than all the blue states


The American Oil Shift

The US is now producing more crude oil than it imports for the first time since the mid-1990s. US crude oil production (blue line) flipped up around 2010, as fracking kicked into gear.

This is one of the most important stories in the world right now….


CVS Receipts Double as Wrapping Paper!


Writing Education Falls into Two Buckets

Writing education falls into two buckets: 

1. Analyzing literature and writing 5-paragraph essays. 

2. Communicating ideas in clear, simple and convincing ways. 

Schools focus on Bucket #1 at the expense of Bucket #2. Why? Writing education is shaped by PhD English programs.

(As you may know, my goal for 2019 is to help 1,000 people start writing. I’m working on a scalable system for writing education — all of it focused on bucket #2.)

If you want to hear more about the project, click this link


Photo of the Week

The photo of the week goes right back to Andy Warhol, and his iconic Campbell’s Soup Painting.

Happy Holidays,

David Perell

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